The Second Vision
Maegwen was on her folded knees, cursing silently and wiping her mouth with the back of her sleeve as she stared at the leaf-covered flooring of the forest. She groaned, held her stomach, and looked around. She needed water. She needed to get the foul taste of vomit out of her mouth.
It had been a few weeks; months actually, since they had arrived back from their trip to Mirkwood and the detour through Lorien. The leaves were falling, the air was getting cooler, and it was probably almost the end of August. Maegwen did not understand why she had never felt so sick in her life. She guessed, though, that it was the gruesome dreams she had been having of late. Many of them were of Figwit, and he was dying a grisly, bloody death. At times she would dream of Haldir, though those were seldom. And if she did dream of him, they were dark and shadowed. She was usually running around a dark forest that was Lorien but looked nothing like it, and crying his name, wishing for an answer but getting none. And it pained Maegwen to wake from those nightmares and reach for Haldir, and he would not be there to hold her and tell her things were all right.
Maegwen bent over quickly and retched again, coughing and crying. She had not a cold nor any fever, yet she was retching, and the taste only made her sicker. Maegwen suddenly thought of Arwen. She had asked Maegwen to tell her if anything about her changed in the next couple of months. The orphan did not understand. Some times she wept in her confusion. Perhaps this was part of the price for love. Maegwen decided to return to her room, or maybe hide away in the library. Maegwen wanted to ask Elrond these things: she knew he would know. Elrond knew everything. But then he would ask questions. And she did not need heckling of any kind right then. Elrond had been very protective and sheltering the days that she had been back. He was worried much of her emotional health, since Figwit’s death. He himself, before Maegwen or Figwit knew, had perceived that perhaps the two might grow to be closer than friends are. He was wrong, but he was not completely correct, either. He thought that Maegwen cried for Figwit. And she did, at times. But she wept more so for Haldir.
Into October, the third month since they had come back, Maegwen was growing almost antisocial because of the odd transformations of her body and mood. Sometimes she would become cranky, or angry, and sometimes she would cry without knowing why. She hid away in her room when this happened. She did not want questions from Elrond, or badgering from Arwen.
Her father and sister’s reaction of her had changed significantly from before she had gone away. Elrond wanted to spend more time with her: perhaps he still felt guilty about what had happened to Figwit and Renia. Maegwen acted happy to be with him, but really, she could see his eyes bulged every new day they might meet to talk: his eyes always trailed to her growing stomach. And it was growing. Her thin material dresses showed off more than she liked, and every time Maegwen looked down to the ground, perhaps to avoid the glances of her sister, she saw her tummy, which was getting bigger. She knew why. She had noticed herself eating more. Elrond had put it lightly and not in the words Maegwen might of, but they both guessed it was a way to ease the depression. Eating more always made Maegwen at ease when she was stressed.
Arwen did not love her sister any less than previous, but she felt awkward around Maegwen. Like she did not know what to say. And she had also lost a little respect for her, as well. Maegwen had done something with a man Arwen thought only suitable for a married couple to do. Or a couple who was very in love. And Elrond still did not know. The distance between the two and the fact they were not even in the same district led Arwen to believe that Haldir and Maegwen did not love each other, despite Maegwen’s words.
But they did. Maegwen could not stop thinking about Haldir for the first little while, and Haldir wondered the forest of Lorien apathetically to the others, and he would go with a distant look in his eyes. Many times he could be seen going to the very edge of the western boarder to stare out onto and over the mountains, as if awaiting Maegwen’s return. Yet they had made no plans of meeting again, and both Haldir and the orphaned woman wondered if they indeed would ever see eachother again, and Maegwen questioned the gift of Haldir. It made her sad. It was meant to be a sign of joy, yet to her it only brought sadness.
The sun rose quickly the next October afternoon, and Maegwen had slept in late. She went down to the gardens, and passed by a patch of flowers. As always, it lay the same way it had for the last 17 years. As if only a few minuets before lay a baby waiting to be found. She did not understand why, but it had always looked like something had just slept in it. The orphan went to it, and sighed, and bent down. Her fingers brushed the blue buds. Someone sighed behind her.
“I remember when you first came to us.” Said a warm voice. Elrond knelt down next to her, and stroked Maegwen’s hair. “You were so beautiful. Large green eyes that sparkled like stars, the most beautiful face. When I brought you into my House, all the elf-maids just gasped at the little bundle in my arms. You were so radiant… I think perhaps even Arwen was a bit jealous when she returned and you continued to grow.”
“Why should she be jealous of me?” Maegwen asked bitterly. She did not know why she was bitter. She just was. And she did not care. “She is an elf. She will live forever. She is the Evenstar. She has someone who loves her. All adore her. And when she is ready, she will sail to Valinor, and there she still will be loved, and her beauty will endure, and I will remain here, to whither and die.”
‘I am withering.’ Maegwen then thought to herself. ‘Haldir, do not let me wilt as though a forgotten flower! Please come for me!’
Elrond could not hear her thoughts, and grew angry: he did not appreciate Maegwen talking about Arwen like that, nor did he like the self-disrespect she was giving herself. He walked to her and turned her around quickly to look at her. Maegwen looked away.
“Maegwen! How dare you say things like this? She is your sister. You have no need to be caustic. You are loved. I love you so much.” Elrond pulled her into his arms, and kissed the top of her head, and quieted her as she sobbed. He shook his head. “Why are you being like this?”
Maegwen did not know. But in the days to come, it only got worse. She was making up excuses to hate herself and all around her. She hated everything. Some days, though, a little sunlight shone on her, and she was able to be a little happy. Still, the memories haunted her. Everything she looked at in Imladris reminded her of Figwit, who she found missing much more. She was so downhearted and dejected, even as Elrond would hold her at nights. She loved her father. Yet every time she went to tell him about her and Haldir’s night together, she felt the words tie into a knot and slide back down her throat. Her father trusted her. Maegwen could not tell him what had happened. Not if it might hurt him or dim his confidence in her.
The first week of October flew by like a leaf in the steady wind, and Maegwen noticed Bilbo must be in the library. She saw his curly white hair in the window, and smiled. She had not seen him in a long while. She went in and greeted him, and read through the book he had added to. She was glad he did not ask her about her stomach. He probably did not even notice. She loved that about him.
The end of the day came quickly, and Maegwen found she had fallen asleep in the library. She did not remember dozing off afterwards when she woke, but when she did wake, it was only to unpleasantness. She stood, stumbled, and fell, hands forward. She rolled onto her back, and blank eyes stared at the sky as she cried out.
“Frodo!!” she screamed. It was a name she had heard a handful of times from the old, doddery hobbit Bilbo. It was his younger cousin and heir to his estate. Why she was screaming it, she did not know. She did not know anything then. All she knew was pain. Pain the little hobbit was suffering. He had such a cheerful face. Bright eyes filled with fear and confusion… she could see him so clearly…
“Ulairi!” she cursed, seeing a black figure loom over her — or was it Frodo? Then, a peircing blade bit the hobbit deep, but it too felt like it stung Maegwen, and she screamed louder.
Arwen looked up from the book of poems of old she was reading when she heard the second scream. The first one she dismissed as the wind, but the second sent her out of the door, and into the courtyard. It sounded familiar. It sounded like Maegwen.
Writhing on the floor, the orphan tossed back and forth. She then saw other things that gave her some sort of reassurance, but still she felt pain. A man was there, or else a really good-looking hobbit. No. He had facial hair, and hobbits did not. It was a man. And somehow, Maegwen knew who it was. She had never seen him before, but descriptions from Arwen gave her a clue.
“Aragorn…” she moaned, turning. Arwen stepped back.
“Aragorn?” she asked. She pulled Maegwen back onto her back, and tried to hold her still. Arwen was gasping for air; she had run so quickly. And elves were not so easily put out of breath. She did not know what to do. She was afraid to leave Maegwen alone, but she needed to find her father.
She ran to the door again and called out into the night. She knew Elrond was meeting with three elves that had come from the west, so he must be in his chambers. His chambers overlooked the court. He would hear.
“Elrond!!” she cried. “Father!”
She saw a figure appear in the dark a few moments later. Elrond came running, looking rather pale, and even whiter under the moonlight. He looked at her daughter with confusion and alarm.
“Arwen, what-?” he looked past her and saw Maegwen on the ground. She was no longer crying, just gazing up at the canopy, breathing raggedly.
“What happened?” he asked, bending down, and setting a hand on Maegwen’s brow.
“I… I believe she just had another… ‘vision’. She was screaming random names: Aragorn, and I thought I heard Ulairi before I came, though I thought it was only the night’s sounds.” Explained Arwen. Elrond nodded, and went to pick her up, but Maegwen’s eyes snapped open. She looked up into Elrond’s gray eyes.
“Frodo.” She said, sounding as helpless as a child. Elrond nodded.
“I know.” He said gently. Maegwen coughed.
“He… he is in trouble… I…”
“I know.” Elrond repeated. Arwen put a hand on his shoulder.
“You know? How do you know? Did **you** see it?”
“The elves that traveled here from the west have brought word that things are amiss. Gandalf has not returned to the halfling who is making his way here, and they say also that the Nine are abroad.” He closed his eyes wearily. “I do not know where they are, nor where the halfling is. I fear he have become lost. Fleeing from the Riders, he might have become confused in the Wild. I have sent messengers in search for them.” Just then a fleet of horses flew by the window, on them many golden hair and fair faced elves.
“Aid me to get her to her room.” Elrond said. Arwen and her father picked her up, and helped her to her own bed in her room. Maegwen feel asleep very quickly, but Arwen and Elrond stayed up, talking. The lord felt that his daughters were not being wholly truthful with him.
Arwen opened her mouth to protest, but could not argue with her father. She looked over at her sister to make sure she was asleep and not listening. Arwen spoke very quietly. She then told Elrond what Maegwen had made her keep a promise. About Haldir and Maegwen. The lord was shocked, disappointed and angry. He thought Maegwen was smart enough and mature enough to know the difference between love and blinded emotion. He knew this was because she was confused about the death of Figwit, and wanted comfort. He was mad at Haldir because he did this to his daughter. He was angry with himself for ever letting Maegwen go.
“It is not your fault.” Arwen insisted. “You could not have stopped this. And Maegwen says that she loves Haldir. I tr-“
“Love?” Elrond asked, still a little dazed, and still furious. He stood and rubbed his brow. “This was not love.” His voice became stronger, and it was like thunder in a horrible storm. “She was hurt and confused… she went to the first person who-“
“Father!” scolded Arwen suddenly, her eyebrows identical to that of her father’s usual expression. But her expression softened. “I know Haldir. He is a good man. He has a good heart. He would never do something like what you are suggesting.”
“How well did you know him?” Elrond asked sharply, but his glance softened. His eyes strayed to Maegwen. He brushed hair out of her face and smiled a little as he looked at his youngest child. “She’s so… naive, isn’t she? I thought she would have told me. I am just worried.”
“Like any good father would be.” Arwen said, putting a hand in his, and resting her head on his shoulder. She hated using rough words with him. But sometimes he got very protective. They were quiet for a long time, and were working things out in their head. Elrond, many times, began to speak, but would fall into a blank silence. He did not know what to say. But something was beginning to dawn on him, and he was starting to understand. He sat beside his mortal daughter on the bed and stroked her head.
“You know what is happening to her though, do you not?” Arwen asked finally. She did not know if Elrond knew, or was refusing the obvious truth. “Why she has been like this.”
“I…” Elrond groaned.
“Come. You have helped bring enough of them into the world. You must know.”
Elrond moaned again. It was all happening so fast. Like he was losing Maegwen. She was growing so quickly. Yes she was so young.
“Yes. I do.” Elrond said gravely. “She is going to bare a child. Maegwen is pregnant.”
As Maegwen shifted in her sleep, she clutched her stomach.